Shared Parental Responsibility and Sole Parental Responsibility

Parents who “share parental responsibility” retain full parental rights and responsibilities for their child. Both parents confer with each other to make decisions for their child.  – Section 61.046(17), Florida Statutes.

Before deciding, separated parents who share parental responsibility must communicate with each other and try to agree. Most parents would do that while together. But when they don’t or can’t agree, options for resolving disagreements include collaborative law practice, mediation, litigation, and other (legal) means.

The court must order shared parental responsibility unless it would be detrimental to the child. – Section 61.13(2)(c), Florida Statutes.  If the court determines shared parental responsibility would be detrimental, it may order sole parental responsibility.

Under “sole parental responsibility,” one parent decides for the child. – Section 61.046(18), Florida Statutes.

The court may consider the parents’ desires and grant to one parent ultimate responsibility over specific aspects of the child’s welfare or may divide those responsibilities between the parents based on the child’s best interests.

Areas of responsibility may include education, health care, and “any other responsibilities that the court finds unique to a particular family.”  – Section 61.13(2)(c)2.a., Florida Statutes.  A subset of “health care” is mental health treatment for a child.

Courts cannot order blanket ultimate decision-making authority over “all” issues if parents sharing parental responsibility disagree. See McClure v. Beck, 212 So. 3d 396 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017); Seligsohn v. Seligsohn, 259 So. 3d 874 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018).  Instead, to direct ultimate decision-making authority, courts must specify concrete aspects over which a parent will have ultimate decision-making.  See also Clarke v. Stofft, 263 So. 3d 84 (Fla. 4th DCA 2019).

⇒ Next:  Shared Parenting – Retained Consent to Mental Health Treatment

⇐ Previous: Parental Responsibility and Decision Making

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